5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 1 Star, Reviewed by Amy, Tara Lain

Review: Canning the Center by Tara Lain – Narrated by John-Paul Barrel

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Canning the Center

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: John-Paul Barrel

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 hours and 17 minutes

At a glance: Tara Lain’s work shines through an otherwise flat and disappointing narration.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones—and his resolve to nurse his straight side.

Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.

To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream—a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?

Dividers

Review: I just simply adore Tara Lain. In Canning the Center, she writes about a budding football player in the professional environment who is very aware of his sexuality and what it will mean for his future in professional sports. This is a super sweet and wonderfully told love story with a little bit of controversy and a lot of awesome.

Jamal is every man and woman’s dream man. Gorgeous, tall, dark, and handsome. I adored this character and all his sweet, gentle, and old fashioned ways—everything about him. He is coming to the realization that although he states he is bisexual, he is actually gay. Introduce him to Trixie LaRue, a wonderful drag queen who is confident even though Trevor—the man behind the makeup—isn’t, and this is a recipe for success. Trevor is a genius and all around awesome guy. It was fun to see these two fall in love.

There isn’t one bad thing I can say about this story, and that’s saying a lot considering that the narration was awful.

If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you’ll know I am not a fan of John-Paul Barrel. I don’t understand how this man is still narrating books. I’m sorry, I know that sounds harsh, but he’s monotone and speaks almost phonetically, like he’s reading out every syllable. Add in his trying to do Trixie LaRue, and she sings too? Ugh. I need to pay better attention to who’s narrating a story before I pick it for review.

For Tara Lain’s book to shine through this awful performance shows what a wonderful and fun story she wrote.

TNA_Signature_Amy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Canning the Center here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

Standard
2.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 2.5 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna, Tara Lain

Audio Review: Outing the Quarterback by Tara Lain – Narrated by John-Paul Barrel

Title: Outing the Quarterback

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: John-Paul Barrel

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours, 30 Minutes

At a Glance: This is definitely not my favorite from this author, and I am still not convinced audiobooks are for me.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he’s gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.

In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will’s problems seem like nothing compared to Noah’s. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it, since the teacher of his class has designs on him–a plan about which Will isn’t happy.

Dividers

Review: Hmmmm. Where to start. I am really a fan of this author, but this book just didn’t work for me. I do think part of the issue was the narrator, but I also had issues with the story.

Will Ashford is the starting quarterback of the fictitious Southern California University football team, and his girlfriend is the head cheerleader. That would all be great except for one big fat problem – Will is gay. He has no desire to go to the NFL, and he really just wants to paint, so he’s taking a Master class under an assumed name. He’s a really talented painter, and he wants to win a scholarship to attend Art school so that he can leave his family expectations behind and not have to worry about tuition, etc.

In this class, Will meets Noah – who is both a model and a rival painter, and Will’s entranced by him. The instructor of the class is also interested in Noah, and his recommendation may be a key to getting this scholarship. For Will, though, trying to keep up on his painting class, his football practice, his other courses, his internship at his father’s company, as well as keeping off the radar of the campus YouTube gossip hound, and continue to feign interest in his girlfriend while also trying to keep the proverbial closet door shut and locked, is taking a big toll on him.

When Will runs into Noah outside of class, at one of Noah’s jobs, all he can think of is not being outed as an artist. Noah respects him as an artist, but he doesn’t think much of him as a person. And that’s before he knows that Will hasn’t exactly been forthcoming.

The character I like the most in this story is actually Will’s best friend Jamal, who is the center on his football team. He really is the kind of best friend everyone needs. I’m looking forward to reading his story, which is the second book in this series. Jamal always has Will’s back, doesn’t judge, and tries to do whatever he can to help Will out of whatever crappy situation he finds himself in. And Will would do the same for Jamal.

As the story progresses, of course Will cannot continue to hide his orientation from Noah when he is so attracted. They have a complicated relationship not only because of the art scholarship they both really want but because they come from such different worlds. Will feels trapped in the gilded cage, and Noah has never had any kind of stability in his life, other than what he has managed on his own.

Of course, as these things go, there must be a moment of truth when Will is put in the position to confirm or deny his orientation, his life choices, and his career aspirations. He is not only going to have to face the press, the football fans, and his father, but he’s going to have to face Noah and make a decision about how he’s going to live his life.

So why do I say this audio book didn’t work for me? Truly, I didn’t care for the narrator. To make sure, I read some of the book after I had finished listening to it, and I liked it a LOT more when I was in control of the story. His attempt at a sort of “sultry/sexy” voice for Will just was difficult for me to listen to and felt very put on and over the top. Then his older adult voice characterizations just did not sound right to me at all. Will’s dad and the art professor both sounded like they had chronic constipation. Honestly, the best characterization, I thought, was Jamal. That voice I could believe. He sounded age appropriate, and his speech pattern was much more authentic.

The other issues I had with the story are probably personal taste. I do not like penis nicknames and this one had a doozy. I know he’s a young guy, but no. And I also didn’t care for some of the other nicknames either. Finally, I just could not like Will as a character. The first, probably, eighty percent of the book, I felt like I was forcing myself just to get through it, and only in the last twenty percent did I finally want to know what was going to happen.

I will definitely read the next story in this series – but I will be reading it to myself. ;) As usual, YMMV.






You can buy Outing the Quarterback here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

Standard
4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Jena Wade, Narration Rating - 3 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Technically Dating by Jena Wade – Narrated by John-Paul Barrel

Title: Technically Dating

Author: Jena Wade

Narrator:: John-Paul Barrel

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours, 18 Minutes

At a Glance: I really enjoyed the brief world Jena Wade weaves, but the narration definitely left me wanting more.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Meek and mild Bruce Collins decides to set aside his life in technical support for the evening and try a wild night on the town. Self-described nerd Bruce meets suave Westley Taylor at a club, but the night doesn’t go as planned. When they run into each other the next day, Bruce is determined to get the details right and finish what they started. Westley is impressed and invites Bruce on date after date. Bruce figures they’re technically dating and might even be in a relationship, until he accidentally overhears a phone message intended for Westley. Every aspect of their time together comes into question. Now, it’s time for Westley to set the facts straight.

Dividers

Review: This is my first book by Jena Wade, and let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Who doesn’t love the geek and the cutie? This book starts out with Bruce meeting Wes in a club for a brief encounter.Their encounter is cut short by a phone call, and Wes thinks he will never see the sexy man again. The next day at Wes’s job as a concierge, he encounters a man who resembles the sexy, leather clad man from the night before, with the exception of his geeky appearance. After realizing Bruce is the same man from the previous night, Wes is intrigued, and they start a romance. Jena Wade builds a very sweet but awkward relationship that somewhat resembles her main character, Bruce.

From the adorkable Bruce to the sweet and friendly Wes, Wade writes depth hard to find in short stories. The reason I would give Technically Dating a 4 star rating and not a 5 was simple. The couple’s first few dates after Bruce leaves the hotel, the author uses a large time jump in the story. This normally wouldn’t bother me, but the story goes from a budding relationship between Wes and Bruce, to what seems like a relationship with patterns that are implied not shown. With that exception, I truly enjoyed this story and am definitely going to seek this author out again.

Narration: One of the main things a narrator of an audiobook needs to be able to do is define each character with a different version of his voice. I had an extremely hard time telling the characters apart, and had to rewind several times to understand who was saying what. The narrator also pronounced things phonetically. This is wonderful when reciting Shakespeare; unfortunately, it isn’t wonderful when you are hearing a sex scene. I really enjoyed the brief world Jena Wade weaves, but the narration definitely left me wanting more.

TNA_Signature_Amy






You can buy Technically Dating here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

Standard